The Extirpation of Animism

Gallery 6–10pm
  • Regular FREE


Join us at the opening on February 2nd from 6-9pm! Free wine and beer will be available, and the artist will be in attendance!

Register to attend here!


The Made in NY Media Center by IFP is proud to present The Extirpation of Animism, a new exhibition by Danish-born and New York-based artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen. Throughout February 2017, the Media Center will be enveloped in a living virtual forest developed and designed by Steensen using the Unreal Engine.

Projection mapping around our 360-degree space and video content on our media wall will plunge visitors into a virtual North American winter forest, dense with glimpses of post-apocalyptic futures that overlap with residues of past romantic landscape imaginations. Under the canopy of the virtual sub-temperate trembling forest, multiple screens unearth Steensen’s own video recordings of a month-long exploration trip along a river leading through a mountain. Steensen filmed himself performing in the mylar shaman costume while artist in residence at MASS MoCA, 2016.


“The disenchantment of the world means the extirpation of animism” – Adorno and Horkheimer, Dialectics of Enlightenment, 1944

Text by writer and curator Angela Chan:

A silver shaman traverses the axis mundi of Terratic Animism’s romantic-Sci-Fi winter forest, draped in a protective future-ritualist’s “DIY survival shaman suit”, fabricated of NASA mylar, usb sticks, old threads and emergency LED lights. The shaman explores a frosted mountain landscape through rituals and journeys in search of lost animism in the crevices of the ice-glazed foliage amongst post-utopian infrastructures: old nuclear sites, trashed school buses, 1800's water plants and frozen solar farms. Climate anxiety, escapism and nature ontologies from the past will intertwine with a sense of mystical futurism, as visitors follow the quest of the mylar-clad shaman’s symbiosis with the environment.


Terratic Animism excavates the concepts of shamanism from a chapter in The Dialectics of Enlightenment from 1944. On writing about media, Adorno contrasts mask-making and animism in shamanistic societies with the visual logic of the capitalist complex of media industries. Through the shaman’s performativity of vivid rituals and self-decoration of colorful masks, the consanguinity between humans and the environments they inhabit becomes securely established. This should be seen in contrast to how the production of consumer-orientated visual culture enslaves environments as a spectacle for the human eye to decipher, analyze, replicate and consume.

Taking Adorno’s commentary on animism as a historical source of inspiration, Jakob Kudsk Steensen challenges the continuum of rational pictorial conventions in digital media by insisting on the use of performance and abstract dimensions. Steensen’s critique of mass image production extends Terratic Animism to reveal the feelings of climate anxiety and the loss of a modernist utopian techno future. With animation as a tool for the assimilation of nature, Terratic Animism transmits how attempts of symbiosis with nature remains in a tentative position, existing here through the virtuality of visual technologies.


About the Artist

Jakob Kudsk Steensen (b. 1987) is a Danish installation artist based in NYC who combines satellite technologies with video, virtual reality, and computer generated environments with real world landscape explorations and cartographic research. His work has most recently been shown at The Moving Image Fair in Istanbul, at MAXXI, Museum of Modern Art in Rome, Museum of Modern Art Valencia, Podium in Oslo and at project spaces in NYC and screened at numerous art and video festivals. He has been artist in residence at Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, BRIC, Brooklyn Arts and Media Center, AADK (Arkitektur Der Aktuelle Kultur) and MASS MoCA Asset for Artist program.

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